Physio for lymphoedema

Manual lymphatic drainage

A special type of massage that helps reduce uncomfortable swelling caused by lymphoedema (build-up of fluid)


If you develop lymphoedema after having cancer treatment, a type of physio called manual lymphatic drainage (MLD) can help relieve the symptoms. Your physiotherapist uses light, rhythmic massage techniques to move excess fluid (lymph) towards healthy lymphnodes. These lymphnodes then drain the fluid through your lymphatic system, as normal. This can reduce the swelling and discomfort caused by the build-up of fluid. By stimulating the flow of lymph, MLD can also help strengthen your immune system. MLD is one aspect of decongestive lymphatic therapy (DLT) or complex decongestive therapy (CDT). Therefore, physiotherapists usually recommend compression bandages, special skincare and exercises to do at home alongside MLD. They also teach you simple massage techniques. You might need to have MLD every day for a few weeks. Your physiotherapist will create a treatment plan that's right for you.

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This content is intended for general information only and does not replace the need for personal advice from a qualified health professional.
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